Fear Of Being Controlled


The fear of being controlled can be a barrier to loving. People who fear being controlled are often stingy with his emotions, because he fears being openly loving makes him vulnerable to being controlled. A fear of being controlled limits the person’s ability to commit to the relationship. Limited commitment has the potential to sabotage the success of the relationship from the beginning. A ledger is kept about what is given because the person fears not getting a return on her investment.

Presenting Problems

There are people whose major barrier to loving is his fear of being controlled. She is so afraid of being controlled by another, that she seeks to make herself less vulnerable by controlling her emotions. He is intellectualized and seeks to separate thought from feeling to gain greater control over his mind and body.

These character traits all serve the purpose of achieving control over oneself and the environment in order to avoid or overcome distressing fears of being controlled. He/she is concerned about the possibility of losing control by being incompetent or insufficiently informed. Psychoanalytic Theory calls these people obsessive compulsive personalities.

Origins of the fear of being controlled

Children are totally dependent on adults and she is therefore vulnerable to being made insecure. Too rigid demands for the child to control his behavior instills in the child a fear of being controlled. Toilet training is one focus where the child’s desire to eliminate her stools when and where she wishes comes into conflict with parental expectations. Moreover, parents in socializing the child have broad expectations of how the child should behave. If demands for compliance to expectations are too severe, the child will develop a fear of being controlled that will shape his personality in later life. If the parents make room for dissent and the child’s separate will, fears of being controlled will not develop.


The person may make a minimal emotional commitment to the marriage in order minimize the risk of being controlled. People who fear being controlled are often stingy with his/her love and affection. Withholding of emotion helps her to feel in control and lessens the chance that more will be asked of her, than she is prepared to give. However, there are also demands for the partner to be perfect. Critical, derogating behavior toward the partner may be difficult for the partner to withstand. This is especially so if there is only minimal affection and warmth present. The person’s insistence on “honesty” leads him to tell all, regardless of the effect upon the partner.

When both parties are people who fear being controlled, complications increase geometrically. The courtship is characterized by cautious restraint and the decision to marry is followed by many postponements and delays accompanied by uncertainties and uneasiness on both sides. Marriage is difficult because it requires commitment. Commitment stimulates fears of being controlled by the partner. The marriage may work out as long as demands upon each other are minimal. These marriages are punctuated by frequent and dramatic power struggles in which each partner strives to gain the advantage. A draw is the most frequent outcome. The relationship is characterized by minimal commitment on each side while each partner demands maximal commitment from the other.

Sexual behavior

The person can perform the sex act properly so that it will conform with the latest sex manuals and acceptable sex practices. Due consideration is given to the partner-according to the latest psychological theories. The act itself is stilted, unspontaneous and routinized. Experimentation is avoided or carried out according to a program. This approach may be entirely satisfactory for the man, but it may be unsatisfactory for the woman. Sometimes it may be mutually enjoyable. When it serves the quest for a perfect performance, much care is given to the needs of the woman. The demand for mutual orgasm is made as a step toward the perfect sex act. Since it is already difficult for the obsessional woman to achieve an orgasm, the expectation of simultaneous orgasm as a usual outcome is generally impossible to fulfill.

The expectation of simultaneous orgasm places a burden on both partners. He should achieve this desirable goal or else feel that each has failed and his relationship is a bad one. Even under the best of circumstances, simultaneous orgasm is not common. In spite of the man’s capacity to control his ejaculation in order to achieve the ideal orgasm for the woman, such perfect timing is often impossible and cannot be expected to occur every time.

Sex becomes a test and trial of adequacy instead of being an occasion of intimacy. Efforts to use the mouth or the hands to improve the possibility of pleasure are considered evidence of immaturity or perversity.


The person who needs to be in control additionally has a need for guaranteed performances, which require rigid sexual patterns in which curiosity and experimentation are dangerous. Unless she can have some assurances that her excursions will not produce additional dangers, she will not attempt them. He must secure, if possible, control over his performance. This requirement often leads her to make appointments for her love making, thus preventing spontaneous demands or refusals; such arrangements may be made days or hours in advance. They need not be verbal, and generally such arrangements are made by signals tacitly acknowledged by both partners. This eliminates the possibility of a direct refusal or rejection, as the signals need not be acknowledged. While such arrangements minimize the risks of being rejected, they also reduce the spontaneous quality of sex, which can be a source of great pleasure. Instead, the act becomes more like a business deal-routinized and properly executed-rather than a response to passion or love. The sexual patterns of people who need to be in control are inevitably influenced by the partial involvement and commitment of the partner.


The inability to relinquish control is a major barrier in loving. Therapy can help with this conflict. Therapy can help him to become aware of his fear of exposing need to the other for fear of being hurt, rejected, and despised as a weakling. These fears prevent letting go and dealing with sex as an experience rather than a therapeutic event. Therapy helps these people release this need to control and recognize destructive patterns. This helps them to enjoy sex and make it an experience of pleasure, mutual exchange and commitment.

Therapy can help the person who needs to be in control be more open to tenderness. These people have no concept that she can obtain tenderness gratuitously, because she feels she has to compel affection or earn it through good works. While the development of a tender, loving relationships requires both activity and concern, it cannot be achieved exclusively through deliberate promotion and calculated effort. Therapy can help the person to realize that warmth and intimacy grow out of tender exchanges implicit in meaningful relationships. One can not buy, nor can one demand, tenderness from another through exploitation and barter. It often comes unasked and can be achieved simply when one is friendly. These people can neither comprehend or believe this, in spite of much evidence to the contrary in love relations. This distrust serves as a barrier to loving.

The uncertainty and distrust of his likeableness makes him suspicious of any tenderness that comes spontaneously to him. If unearned, she cannot accept it comfortably. The person views the giver as weak or a sucker and distances himself from closeness. She may also become suspicious of the giver’s motives and feel that tenderness is device to manipulate and control her. Therapy can help him see how self destructive his fear of dependence is. This helps to diminish a barrier to loving.